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The 30th Anniversary of the World Press Freedom Day. Freedom of Expression as a “Driver for All Other Human Rights”

The World Press Freedom Day celebrated annually on May 3, marks its 30th anniversary in 2023. Under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this year’s event is titled “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for All Other Human Rights.”

On the World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO announced a special event to be held at the UN headquarters in New York, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the decision of the UN General Assembly to proclaim an international day dedicated to freedom of the media.

“(…) it is time to recognize the important contribution of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of information to the fulfillment of other human rights. (…) we call upon all Member States to promote, protect and fulfill the right of freedom of opinion and expression. All human rights are universal and indivisible. It is time to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference. The safety of journalists and media workers must be considered an integral part of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and key to countering disinformation, including in conflict settings,” according to the joint statement delivered by the Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly, UNESCO General Conference, the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council.

“While the preservation of free, independent and pluralistic media is vital for resilient and healthy democracies, press freedom is at stake in most parts of the world today. Journalists, media workers and all those who bring independent quality information to the public, shed light on the gross human rights violations and atrocities and hold those in power to account increasingly face discredit, threats and attacks, including through disinformation,” a European Union statement also mentions.

The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following the UNESCO General Conference in 1991. The UN decided to celebrate this day to emphasize the importance and necessity of respecting freedom of expression pursuant to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also following the adoption of the Declaration of Windhoek on pluralism and independence of the media on May 3, 1991. The text was compiled as a result of the meeting of journalists from Africa at the workshop for promoting independent and pluralistic African press organized by UNESCO and the UN in Windhoek, Namibia. The document was the first one in a series of similar statements around the world and affirms the international community’s commitment to protecting the freedom of the press.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims.

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